As it happens, one of the best learning grounds for IT asset management is in colleges and universities, because these institutions provide network access to thousands of devices, ranging from faculty to students to guests, with a high turnover rate of end users as students enroll, graduate, drop out, and move on. Each user has an average of three devices, a number which is continually escalating, and expected to reach as many as ten devices per user as the Internet of Things brings in connected cars, watches, body cameras, and other new devices.
The nature of the campus also brings specific challenges that can teach lessons about IT asset management.
This includes the propensity of college students to quickly adopt the newest devices, the fact that students are notoriously not careful about what apps they download, and the activist nature of some students — which means an occasional act of intentional maliciousness is never out of the question.
This makes institutions of higher learning the ideal training ground for learning to manage enterprises as BYOD policies become more prevalent.
The college campus is an excellent example of thousands of users accessing a network on a wide variety of devices.
IT Needs to Establish Consistent and Enforceable Policies for Devices and Users
The first consideration is whether or not to allow access to specific data from specific devices. Most institutions have established a baseline to quickly determine the safety and security of a device, while not delaying access for those who need the information and are authorized to use it. A common requirement is that the device be passcode protected, which protects the network if the device lands in the wrong hands. Additionally, the device should be verified to have up-to-date anti-malware installed, and needs to have the latest Windows security patches.
Additionally, each user needs an ID and password that establishes what areas of the network that particular user is allowed to access. The system should be able to identify any device that lacks these basic security measures and deny access instantly.
Centralized IT Asset Management is Ideal
Most colleges and universities have found that a single, centralized control station is better than multiple stations, so that the use of each device logging into the network can be quickly identified and monitored. The goal is offering consistent service to the devices needing access, while being able to identify and track any devices or users that shouldn’t be on the network.
Most institutions have a plan in place to identify devices infected with malware or those which are being controlled by bots. The IT department needs a way to notify administration about the IP address in question and check this information against the student’s information. The IT department can then help the student regain access to the network by removing the malware from the device.
Networks Need Many Layers of Defense to Remain Secure
The sheer number of devices and users isn’t the real problem. The greatest challenge lies in the various types of devices, demanding more of a service delivery model than device-specific support. Data leakage is one of the primary concerns. This situation requires a multi-level security system, including an outer firewall, solid network access controls, and an inner firewall. Additionally, these security measures should be reviewed, updated, and revised continually to offer the highest level of support possible.
Devices used to access networks like those on the college campus continue to evolve, as will the threats posed to such networks. This means that it is critical to understand how to continue to offer great user experiences while constantly updating, reevaluating, and upgrading protocol and procedures to reflect the security risks posed to the network.
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